Traveling Cat Adventure Vehicle


Holy cat snacks!  I bought an RV!!  To be otherwise known as the Mobile Cat House, Traveling Cat Camper, Cat-Assisted Adventure Van, Traveling Cat Adventure Vehicle?  The idea here is to be able to take extended road trips and bring the cats along so that I don’t always have to make arrangements for a cat sitter.

I wanted something small enough to be able to take most anywhere (cities, state/national parks, even dirt roads) and yet large enough that the cats won’t go stir crazy and hate it.  Darlene and I intend to use it mostly, if not always, “dry camping” (or “boondocking” without hookups for water or electricity); in other words, our intention isn’t to travel to RV “resorts” or campgrounds.  We’ll prefer being able to camp out on open national park, forest service or BLM lands.


Now if this wasn’t mostly about being able to bring the cats along, I’d definitely go for a compact 4×4 Sprinter van conversion that would allow us to go anywhere we would have previously gone and still easily fit in city parking spaces. However, to better accommodate the cats (it is the Traveling Cat Adventure Vehicle after all), I eventually settled on the somewhat wider and longer Leisure Travel Vans “Unity 24TB” (Twin Bed) model, built on the Mercedes Sprinter diesel-powered chassis.  It’s a little wider and longer than a normal Sprinter van and thus a “class B+ or C” but it should still be reasonably manageable both in the city and in the wild.  Unfortunately, there aren’t yet options for electric drivetrains on campervans and motorhomes, but they’re coming.  Mercedes-Benz may well have an all-electric option for its Sprinter chassis in a few more years.

While the Leisure Travel Vans build lacks somewhat in some of the technical features I wanted, many of those aspects can be upgraded after the fact.  The rest of the craftsmanship, aesthetics and build quality are fantastic.  (I’ve posted my shopping/comparison notes here from my RV/campervan selection process as a sort of a review of what’s available that might be helpful to others.)

Anyway, I found and bought this only very slightly used 2016 Unity from a previous owner in Montana, with just 3100 miles on it, before I drove it the 1250 miles back home.  It was great to find a relatively new used one, to avoid the immediate depreciation hit of buying new and also to skip the 6-8 month long backlog for new orders.  Leisure Travel Vans are hard to come by and dealer’s orders seem to sell immediately.  I wasn’t even able to look at one in person anywhere in California.

It remains to be seen if Pan and Hera will adapt to taking extended road trips in their new Traveling Cat House.  If it doesn’t work out with the cats, I’m sure it’ll still be a fun adventure and it should be easy enough to sell again if I find it’s not something I want to keep.  In the meantime, there’s a number of changes and upgrades I’ll be making to the Traveling Cat House which I’ll document here, to hopefully help out others like myself:  RV Tips, Upgrades and Customizations

Update:  The cats are doing great and have adapted well to traveling in the RV.  Follow this tag (“RV Travels”) to see and read about Pan and Hera’s traveling adventures!

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  • We are in the market for a Leisure Travel Van. We have a cat (and one dog) but have no idea where to put the catbox. Also major concern that the vehicle is to small for a cat?

    • See my solution here for the litter box:

      As for whether the vehicle is too small for a cat, that depends a lot on the cat, the lengths of time and whether you plan to take them out for little excursions, etc. As for my two cats, Hera is much more content to hang out in the RV than Pan is, who always wants to go out and explore. We find that we do have to give them both time outside a lot though.

      I’m actually looking at downsizing from the Unity to a short-base 4WD Sprinter to allow us to go where we can’t currently and that is the big concern as to whether Pan and Hera will tolerate a much smaller space for 12 hours or more at a time.

  • Pretty solid design & build — So many great places to go!

    An RV without regenerative braking seems criminal to me; crazy ideas I’ve had include somehow converting the front axle to electric drive, and/or pulling an expedition trailer with extra batteries, PV panels, and water and have that do regen braking when going downhill. . .

    Any way to mount your current JVC for movie viewing? I guess throwing the picture outside wouldn’t work, what with all the bugs it would attract . . .

    • Thanks for the total eclipse reminder… and yes, would be so nice to have an electric drivetrain, including regenerative braking… It’s a lot of effort/energy lost to hold your speed back on the descents! Looks like it’s a few years out though. For a projector, could do a pico-projector on the outside wall, but yeah, might be quite the shadow puppet show with all the attracted bugs!